Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) claimed a memorable victory at the VisitQatar Grand Prix after an epic desert battle featuring five riders in the latter stages. The Italian beat Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) by 0.023s as the top five riders were covered by just 0.6 seconds.
Dovizioso’s Ducati got a near-perfect launch off the line with the new ‘holeshot’ device working to full effect, and led Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Ducati) into Turn 1, with Marquez third.
Pole winner Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha) dropped from first to sixth on the opening as LCR Honda teammates Takaaki Nakagami and Cal Crutchlow slid past into fourth and fifth.
There was more drama on the second lap as second-placed Miller suddenly sat up and appeared to remove part of his seat, his Ducati dropping to 11th before retiring, seatless, just before half distance.
In the early laps, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was the man on the move, starting 10th but pushing through into the lead on lap 5. Dovizioso and Rins then swapped the lead back and forth for several laps, with Marquez and others in a nine-rider lead pack close behind.
With seven laps to go, the top eight were covered by just 1.2 seconds as Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) made up a lot of ground, picking off his teammate Viñales and then Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) to slot into sixth.
With three laps to go, the fight for the win became a five-way scrap as Petrucci, Viñales and Mir slowly lost touch.
Into the last lap, Dovizioso powered past Lap 21 leader Marquez into Turn 1, with Crutchlow, Rins and Rossi right behind. Marquez bobbled slightly in Turn 3 before making a lunge up the inside of the leading Ducati into Turn 10, but the Italian was able to cut back up the inside on the exit.
A carbon copy of the race 12 months ago then played out at the final corner, with Marquez diving through, sitting up Dovizioso, then running wide. The Ducati got the drive and powered past the Honda on the exit to edge the No. 93 to the line by 0.023 seconds.
Behind, Crutchlow kept his cool to take a remarkable podium in his first race back since his huge Australian GP crash, with Rins a valiant fourth and Rossi fifth, up from 14th on the grid and again proving you should never count out ‘The Doctor’.